RELEASED: September 29th 2012 – March 2nd 2013
DISTRIBUTED BY: Cartoon Network
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: George Lucas, Catherine Winder & Dave Filoni
WRITTEN BY: Chris Collins, Christian Taylor, Brent Friedman, Charles Murray
DIRECTED BY: Steward Lee, Kyle Dunlevy, Bosco Ng, Brian Kalin O’Connell, Danny Keller & Dave Filoni
MUSIC BY: Kevin Kiner
STARRING: Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Matthew Wood, Ian Abercrombie, Tim Curry, Ahmed Best, Clancy Brown, Terrence C. Carson, Jim Cummings, Olivia d’Abo, Anthony Daniels, Robin Atkin Downes, Jon Favreau, Nika Futterman, Brian George, Anna Graves, Angelique Perrin, Kevin Michael Richardson, Katee Sackhoff, Meredith Salenger, Jason Spisak, Stephen Stanton, Catherine Taber, Sam Witwer, Andrew Kishino & David Tennant
REVIEW: You would think, considering the quality of the show up until this point, and considering this is the first ‘end’ of the show, things would go out on a high.
And while they do go out on a high, episode-wise, series wise, not so much.
Similar to season 4, season five of The Clone Wars struggles to find that consistency of telling strong, all-ages stories, instead frantically flip-flopping between more serious matters and weird, goofy kid jokes.
The series gives the illusion of strength straight out the gate with a continuation of the Maul story from last season but then takes a hard turn into an arc about rebellion, which features the first appearance of Saw Gerrera. Unfortunately, similar to last season, stories that could be told rather succinctly, drag on for far too many episodes, meaning if you’re not hooked by a story, like the Onderon-Rebellion arc, then you’ve just lost a good chunk of your series.
A few episodes later, the same thing happens again, as the supposedly comedic D-Squad arc just never seems to end. For the most part, it’s boring and cumbersome, with one of the most annoying characters ever introduced into the Star Wars universe, WAC – mind-numbingly annoying.
Episodes like this make you struggle to remember why you liked this show so much a few seasons ago, and it’s even more frustrating when there’s seemingly no rhyme or reason as to why this is happening, writer-wise. Episodes good and bad are penned by the same writers, as this season limits its pool of script-writers significantly, compared to seasons past.
As a result, you’re left with a season that contains, in my opinion, both the worst episode of The Clone Wars (Secret Weapons and the D-Squad arc as a whole) and, paradoxically, the best (The Lawless).
Fortunately, as I mentioned, despite a very bumpy two thirds, the season does go out on a high, with the culmination of both Darth Maul and the Mandalorians stories coming in the form of a hard-hitting four-episode arc that represents everything that’s been wonderful about The Clone Wars.
It expands the universe, delving into fascinating cultures and societies; studies great characters and gives them poignant stories, like the romance-that-never-was between Obi-Wan and Satine and builds up the villains as legitimate threats – as Darth Sidious finally makes a show of his physical power in a way that makes the Palpatine confrontations in both Revenge of the Sith and The Rise of Skywalker look amateurish.
The choreography and visuals are all excellently done, and Kevin Kiner seems to always have the perfect music to go alongside whatever’s transgressing on screen. It’s a perfect example of how some of the greatest Star Wars content is actually found outside of the movie-theatre.
Similarly, the final arc focused around bringing a close to Ahsoka’s story before Revenge is equally poignant, and gives audiences one last reminder of how the war has corrupted the Jedi Order and everything they stood for. It writes out Ahsoka in a sensible way that doesn’t require further following up in Revenge while adding another layer to Anakin’s descent into darkness.
All-in-all, this initial five-season run of The Clone Wars has been a hell of a ride. But as much as I’d like to give this season the full five stars (or at least four and a half) based on the final two stories of the series, unfortunately, the first thirteen episodes really bring that score down.
So, all-in-all, I give The Clone Wars – Season 5: